David Van Vactor

David Van Vactor, Ph.D.

Professor of Cell Biology
Director, Biological and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program (HMS)
Director, Curriculum Fellows Program (HMS)

David Van Vactor, Ph.D. is a Professor of Cell Biology in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and a member of the Program in Neuroscience and the DFCI/Harvard Cancer Center. He is the Faculty Director of the HMS Curriculum Fellows program and Director/PI of Harvard’s Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Dynamics (MCD2) T32 PhD training program. He is also a Visiting Professor at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University in Japan.  Dr. Van Vactor received his B.A. in Behavioral Biology at the Johns Hopkins University and his Ph.D. from the Department of Biological Chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), before post-doctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Van Vactor Lab is focused on understanding the development, maintenance and plasticity of neuromuscular connectivity in the model organism Drosophila. The coordinated morphogenesis of the synapse, fundamental unit of cell-cell communication in neural networks, requires many layers of regulatory mechanisms.  Genome-wide enhancer/suppressor screens to define the molecular machinery controlling neuromuscular junction development (NMJ) led us to multiple translational regulators, including a number of microRNA (miR) genes. Because the fly NMJ has served so well for genetic analysis of synapse development and function in many labs, we have a sophisticated knowledge of underling pathways and gene networks, thus making this a system particularly well suited to explore upstream regulatory logic. Using conditional genetic tools to manipulate the function of conserved miRs and their target genes, we have identified several novel regulatory pathways.  In addition, through a close and long-term collaboration with the Artavanis-Tsakonas Lab, we have worked to better understand developmental and age-dependent degeneration of the neuromuscular system using a variety of models for human disease in Drosophila.

Harvard Medical School

Dept. of Cell Biology, LHRRB 314

240 Longwood Avenue

Boston, MA 02115

Lab telephone: 617-432-2195

Lab fax: 617-432-1144

Control of feeding by Piezo-mediated gut mechanosensation in Drosophila.
Authors: Authors: <a href="https://connects.catalyst.harvard.edu/Profiles/profile/90192233">Min S</a>, Oh Y, Verma P, Whitehead SC, Yapici N, <a href="https://connects.catalyst.harvard.edu/Profiles/profile/1246378">Van Vactor D</a>, Suh GS, <a href="https://connects.catalyst.harvard.edu/Profiles/profile/1236841">Liberles S</a>.
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miRNA: local guardians of presynaptic function in plasticity and disease.
Authors: Authors: <a href="https://connects.catalyst.harvard.edu/Profiles/profile/84688503">Woods BJ</a>, <a href="https://connects.catalyst.harvard.edu/Profiles/profile/1246378">Van Vactor D</a>.
RNA Biol
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Synapse development and maturation at the drosophila neuromuscular junction.
Authors: Authors: Chou VT, Johnson SA, Van Vactor D.
Neural Dev
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3D Particle Tracking for Noninvasive In Vivo Analysis of Synaptic Microtubule Dynamics in Dendrites and Neuromuscular Junctions of Drosophila.
Authors: Authors: Chou VT, Yesilyurt HG, Lai H, Long JB, Arnes M, Obbad K, Jones M, Sasaki H, Lucas LAG, Alworth S, Lee JS, Van Vactor D.
J Vis Exp
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Drosophila enabled promotes synapse morphogenesis and regulates active zone form and function.
Authors: Authors: McNeill EM, Thompson C, Berke B, Chou VT, Rusch J, Duckworth A, DeProto J, Taylor A, Gates J, Gertler F, Keshishian H, Van Vactor D.
Neural Dev
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The conserved microRNA miR-34 regulates synaptogenesis via coordination of distinct mechanisms in presynaptic and postsynaptic cells.
Authors: Authors: McNeill EM, Warinner C, Alkins S, Taylor A, Heggeness H, DeLuca TF, Fulga TA, Wall DP, Griffith LC, Van Vactor D.
Nat Commun
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MicroRNAs Regulate Multiple Aspects of Locomotor Behavior in Drosophila.
Authors: Authors: Donelson NC, Dixit R, Pichardo-Casas I, Chiu EY, Ohman RT, Slawson JB, Klein M, Fulga TA, Van Vactor D, Griffith LC.
G3 (Bethesda)
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dTACC restricts bouton addition and regulates microtubule organization at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction.
Authors: Authors: Chou VT, Johnson S, Long J, Vounatsos M, Van Vactor D.
Cytoskeleton (Hoboken)
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MicroRNAs Regulate Sleep and Sleep Homeostasis in Drosophila.
Authors: Authors: Goodwin PR, Meng A, Moore J, Hobin M, Fulga TA, Van Vactor D, Griffith LC.
Cell Rep
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Regulation of Circadian Behavior by Astroglial MicroRNAs in Drosophila.
Authors: Authors: You S, Fulga TA, Van Vactor D, Jackson FR.
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